Two young Vernon hockey fans got the ride of a lifetime on Monday night when they were invited to show off their mini-Zamboni at the Canucks’ home matchup against the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.
Six-year-old Asher and five-year-old Kyler attained viral fame last week after a video their parents shared with Global News was picked up by the Canucks and the NHL’s social media sites, racking up hundreds of thousands of views.
In the original video, Asher and Kyler can be seen driving their custom-made mini-Zamboni around a backyard ice rink their parents had built in at their Vernon home.
After the video went viral, the Canucks contacted the boys’ parents Jolene and Steven Anderson and invited them down to the city to show off their ride at intermission.
“They were pretty excited,” said Steven.
“I was pretty worried they would freeze up when they saw all the people, because we’re from a pretty small town … but they seemed to love it and they had a blast.”
The boys were invited to the team practice earlier in the day and got to meet several players — including 2018-19 Calder Trophy-winning forward Elias Pettersson — got plenty of autographs and got to sit on a real Zamboni.
Then it was on to their big moment, which took place while other minor hockey kids played a scrimmage match at centre ice.
“They moved the nets a little bit up and then they got to Zamboni around just behind the kids playing hockey,” Steven said.
“It was pretty overwhelming, but I think they were pretty happy with how everything worked out. They definitely crashed pretty hard last night.”
The backyard Zamboni was a collaborative project between the boys’ parents. When the family first built their backyard rink last year, they worked up a prototype Zamboni using an old camping cooler.
“But the boys have a Power Wheels Jeep that they use in the summertime — in the winter, it just kind of sits,” he said.
He said the Power Wheels Zamboni isn’t as efficient as the cooler model but is a lot more fun for the kids.
While Steven said it’s only been cold enough for the backyard rink to freeze for about seven days this year, he credits it with helping his kids learn to skate on their own terms.
As for the boys’ first trip to the big show, he said it might take a while for the experience to sink in.
“They had lots of fun,” he said. “I don’t think they realize quite yet how cool it was.”